A year ago this month, Underground Atlanta leadership announced Georgia’s oldest craft brewery would be uprooting from a warehouse district to the historic heart of downtown, opening a street-level taproom and restaurant that would signal Underground’s comeback more visibly than any upgrade to date.
But now those plans have officially been nixed, officials tell Urbanize Atlanta.
Atlanta Brewing Company had planned to relocate from its longtime home in an industrial park northwest of Midtown to the former Atlanta Visitors Center on Upper Alabama Street. It was expected to open at Underground in late 2022, but the lack of construction progress and other factors have prompted the district’s leadership to move on.
“We’re really sad to announce that unfortunately, Underground Atlanta had to recently terminate the lease due to construction not commencing since our announcement and the [brewery’s] inability to fulfill other lease obligations,” Mary Turner, Lalani Ventures senior vice president and head of leasing, wrote in an email to Urbanize Atlanta.
Turner noted that Underground Atlanta leaders still hope to open a beer-centric concept in the former visitors center. The standalone building, located just east of the New Year’s Eve Peach Drop location, once hosted historical exhibits and a theater welcoming people to Atlanta but has been vacant for about two decades.
“[We’re] excited to open up the opportunity for another brewery for that space,” said Turner.
Inquires to Atlanta Brewing Company in recent weeks have not been returned.
The brewery’s exit marks the second food-and-beverage concept at Underground to make a splash in terms of hype and media coverage but ultimately not take flight. In spring 2021, Underground leadership announced Robert Montwaid—cofounder of Selig’s Chattahoochee Food Works in northwest Atlanta, and the creative force behind New York City’s Gansevoort Market and Minneapolis’ Dayton’s Market—planned to open a 21-stall food hall near the Masquerade music venue. Interior demolition commenced, but Gansevoort later backed away, and what was envisioned as a “boutique food market” at Underground hasn’t materialized.
Atlanta Brewing Company originally opened in 1993 on Midtown’s Williams Street before uprooting to Defoor Hills Road in 2007, becoming a pioneer in what’s grown into a thriving brewery district.
At Underground, the brewery’s blueprint for the 8,600-square-foot space called for an indoor-outdoor taproom, restaurant, and brewery with roll-up garage doors for better interaction with the street. Ping-pong tables, community events like trivia nights, and 20 beers on draught with pour-it-yourself taps were all in the plans, per last July’s announcement. “We wanted to operate in a place that’s creative and embraces Atlanta culture,” Alton Shields, the company’s president, CEO, and general manager said at the time. “What better way to represent [the city] than to move to Underground Atlanta and help bring it back to life.”
The former nightlife mecca has emerged in recent years as a center for arts, culture, and entertainment. Underground scored a win last winter in signing nightclub MJQ Concourse, a Ponce staple being displaced by development, to open its new location in Underground’s former Dante’s Down the Hatch space, which has been gathering dust for a quarter-century.
In addition to the nightclub, newer Underground signings include Fulton County’s Public Arts Future Lab, dolo’s pizza company, Dancing Crepes, Yelle Skincare, and Daiquiriville, a 2,200 square-foot indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar with karaoke, fire shows, and other entertainment in Kenny’s Alley.
Lalani Ventures bought ailing Underground from South Carolina-based shopping center developer WRS in 2020, paying $31 million, or $4 million less than WRS had paid in 2017. A series of property upgrades, such as the reactivation of Underground’s fountains, and arts-focused events and installations have since come to fruition, alongside previously signed tenants The Masquerade, a longstanding Atlanta music venue, Future Showbar and Restaurant, a two-story LGBTQ haven, and other concepts.
Lalani Ventures CEO Shaneel Lalani has said his goal is to transform Underground Atlanta ahead of the 2026 World Cup, echoing heads of other substantial redevelopments downtown. But getting there, once again, will require a trip back to the drawing board.
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